17-State Coalition Takes on Trump’s Bad Environmental Policy
A coalition of states led by New York’s attorney general have banded together to sue the Trump administration in an attempt to derail its attack on critical climate change policies.
According to the Obama administration, the Clean Power Plan, or CCP, sets firm but “fair” standards for power plants. The policy specifically creates goals for states, aiming to cut the carbon dioxide pollution that directly contributes to climate change.
One of the main aims of the CCP was to recognize that many states have already made progress on this front, and to use the latest in scientific thinking to pinpoint achievable thresholds for individual states — thus, allowing for a coordinated effort across the U.S. It has been called one of the most important environmental measures ever developed by the U.S.
It may be unsurprising, though, that the climate science-denying Trump administration has wasted no time in taking aim at the Clean Power Plan.
The executive order signed by Trump directs the EPA to review the regulation. And that instruction doesn’t come as a surprise. The Obama administration conducted a similar review of pending climate policies at the start of its administration. However, the executive order specifically notes that the EPA should decide whether to “suspend, rescind, or revise” the Clean Power Plan.
The intent here is clear: The Trump administration wants to gut the policy.
The Trump administration, which has made no secret of its affinity for the dying coal industry, maintains that the policy would be bad for U.S. energy production and jobs, and would not yield the intended environmental benefits.
Scientists and environmental groups alike have reacted angrily to these allegations, asserting that the claims deny the significant body of research that underpins the CPP.
Nevertheless, many of the CPP’s provisions are on hold because a coalition of 26 Republican-led states is taking the policy to court.
Now, citing the review by the EPA, the Trump administration has asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to refrain from ruling on the policy until its own review has been completed. This would essentially prevent the courts from ruling on the legality of the CPP — and could block it indefinitely. It would also mean that the executive branch is using its authority to undercut the courts, a separate but no less concerning issue.
Now, though, liberal states are fighting back.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has led the charge, stating on Monday, April 3:
Energy efficiency standards are vital to public health, our environment, and consumers. This is yet another example of how the Trump administration’s polluter-first energy policy has real and harmful impacts on the public health, environment – and pocketbooks – of New Yorkers, By blocking these common sense standards, the administration is reversing progress in cleaning the air we breathe and fighting climate change – and denying consumers and businesses some $24 billion in savings. I will continue to use the full force of my office to compel the Trump administration to live up to its obligations to the law and the people of New York.
In total, ten Democratic attorney generals — plus New York City and a few state regulators — have started a campaign to use the courts to salvage the CPP. Together they have petitioned the district court to not put its decision making on hold. They claim that it is unacceptable for the Trump administration to delay — potentially indefinitely — a lawful policy and argue that there is a pressing need to review the policy.
The group has also notified Energy Secretary Rick Perry that they are prepared to sue to reclaim other areas of regulation. In that notice, the group states that legal action will commence if the government continues to stall on standards that would ensure air compressors, air conditions and commercial boilers, among several other electrical items, meet low-carbon emission goals.
The coalition has also petitioned the federal courts in New York to force the Trump administration into implementing efficiency standards for other goods. Those regulations were due to come into force in March but have been pushed back to September. Critics allege that the government has failed to offer satisfactory reasons for this delay.
As Scheniderman highlighted when announcing the legal challenge, it’s clear that the Clean Power Plan’s targets for reducing carbon dioxide, mercury and methane are vital — and could save billions of dollars for consumers. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has failed at every turn to produce evidence for its assertions that the regulations will hurt the country.
Furthermore, these legal actions allege that the Trump administration may be flouting existing laws by refusing to implement those changes — ones that should have already come into effect.
It remains to be seen how successful these arguments will be in the courts, but this is yet another step in New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s long campaign to fight President Trump.
Clearly, the administration has a tough road ahead if it wants to rob the nation of this vital environmental policy.
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